Discovering Central Luzon’s best with DATO travel exchange

Subic Bay sunset cruise
Subic Bay sunset cruiseContributed photo

MEMBERS of the Davao Association of Tour Operators (DATO) headed by President Cynthia E. Ruano went on a travel exchange and familiarization tour to Clark-Subic-Pampanga and Bataan with the Department of Tourism Region 3 (DOT 3) last Feb.27 until Mar. 1, 2024.

One of the Death March markers in Bataan
One of the Death March markers in BataanContributed photo
Subic Bay Adventures 1
Subic Bay Adventures 1Contributed photo

Organized by DOT 3, the tour aimed to showcase the region’s vibrant attractions and provide firsthand experiences that are memorable for the visitors from Mindanao.

Dolphins in Subic Bay Adventures
Dolphins in Subic Bay AdventuresContributed photo
Black Jack in Zoobic Safari
Black Jack in Zoobic SafariContributed photo

Even on day one, the group was already indulging in savory Kapampangan cuisine as the journey kicked off with a scrumptious lunch at Lola Ima's.  We then embarked on a close-up experience with wildlife (white tigers up close!), dolphin and sea lion shows at Subic Bay Ocean Adventure and Zoobic Safari. The day ended with a cultural treat - an Aeta musical performance in the woods followed by a picturesque sunset cruise with dinner aboard a yacht.

Cooking challenge at Apag Marangle
Cooking challenge at Apag MarangleContributed photo

Day two started with a lively market tour in Guagua (Dabawenyos can really haggle to the max!), leading to a hands-on cooking experience at Apag Marangle, where participants were guided to whip up local delicacies. This culinary adventure, part of the Pampanga Gastrography initiative, aims to foster a deep appreciation for the region's gastronomic heritage.

San Guillermo Church in Pampanga
San Guillermo Church in PampangaContributed photo

The exploration continued with visits to historical sites like San Guillermo Church and modern attractions like Diaspora Farm and the Giant Lantern Center, culminating in a networking dinner hosted by the DOT 3.

Hotel de Oriente Convention in Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar
Hotel de Oriente Convention in Las Casas Filipinas de AcuzarContributed photo

Day three was loaded with heritage exploration in Angeles City, visiting museums and getting our names inscribed in ancient "Kulitan" calligraphy.  We also enjoyed delectable treats at Edna's Cakeland and Diosdado Restaurant before immersing in Filipino history at the impressive Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar in Bataan (the group actually brought Filipiniana and barong tagalog for a fun time travel shoot).

Boodle fight dinner at Las Casas
Boodle fight dinner at Las CasasContributed photo

On our last day, the group paid a courtesy call at the Shrine of Valor in Mt. Samat, followed by a satisfying lunch at Tangway Resto. We then delved into fascinating history at Clark Museum and enjoyed a flavorful dinner at Matam-Ih. The trip concluded with a quick tour of the new Clark International Airport before heading back to Davao, filled with fond memories of fun-filled adventure and newfound friends along the way.

Networking dinner in Park Inn Clark
Networking dinner in Park Inn ClarkContributed photo

A special note of gratitude on our hotel stays: Heritage Hotel for our Manila stopover as three of us had to get an early flight to join others, Park Inn by Radisson Clark for two days, and a memorable overnight in Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar.

Clark International Airport
Clark International AirportContributed photo

Thank you, President Cha and the 12 travel agents, for the warm welcome as the only media member to tag along with you. Thank you, DOT 3 staff and the wacky tour guides, we can’t forget you. The impromptu singing and dancing top my list of unforgettable moments, right along with food and attractions. Believe me, I gained more friends and weight on my return to Davao.

(Jojie Alcantara, has been writing at a young age for Sunstar Davao since the 90s, and considers it a significant stepping stone for her workshops and speaking engagements, travel adventures, and shoot assignments around the country and abroad. Visit 


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